From the monthly archives: "July 2003"

I live in Austin, Texas and just found this nasty looking bug outside on my patio, clinging to the wall in the early morning below my porch light.
It has a large set of mean-looking pincers on the front of the head. The forward half of the body is dark, and the rear half is light tan and caterpillar-looking. I had to take the picture through the yogurt jar I captured him in. He is about 3.5 inches long.
I leave most outdoor bugs alone but was concerned that if I ran across him later accidentally, I might get a nasty bite. He aggressively threatened me as I repositioned the jar to get the photo.
If anybody wants him, come and get him!
Patty Pritchett

Dear Patty,
She is beautiful. He is an adult Dobson Fly, the larvae of which are known as Hellgrammites. The male has even moreformidable jaws which are used during the mating ritual in what humans might consider spousal abuse. They will not harm humans. We have additional information on our site.

Hi there,
This thing wasn’t in my home thank goodness. I was staying in a hostel in Toronto a couple weeks ago. When i arrived at the hostel way earlier than standard checkin time, they let me settle into a room anyhow because it was completely empty. they had cleaned it the day before and so there was no one staying in there at the time. Later that day another girl moved into the room, and she told me that she had been staying in there a couple days earlier, but had been moved out so they could clean the room because she had been getting weird rashy-looking bite marks all over her arms and legs. she showed me – just large red patches. no one else in the room had been bitten/stung/affected, but they decided to clean the room anyhow. a few days later, i was changing in the room one morning when something moving caught my eye. I glanced at the floor to see something dash out from the general area of a pile of luggage and run across the floor in front of me. i was stunned for a moment watching this bizarre thing and then, not having anything with which to really catch it, i tried to grab at a shoe to give it a whack (i’m not much for killing bugs though, but i didn’t feel i had much in the way of options just then). before I could get it though, it ran underneath a pile of luggage under a girl’s bunk. and she was sleeping in it at the time, so I didnt think it would be very good of me to go through her luggage, have her wake up and smack me thinking I was stealing something. The thing was never seen again during my stay. My first impression of it was that it looked like a translucent brown shrimpish thing. kind of like root beer candy, that sort of translucent brown. it was quick, it had something clawlike off the front. I didnt get an accurate leg count unfortunately… it had a small tail that was sticking out the back of it. like a shrimp. and it was certainly a couple inches long. I described this thing to a few people in toronto, and more than one of them said ‘oh that’s a silverfish!’ I’ve seen silverfish before, theyre tiny and silver and fishlike. but these people insist silverfish in toronto look like brown shrimp things. i dont know if that’s just a common torontonian nickname or what. My dad seems to think it might have been some kind of scorpion, which I guess half fits the description. I was looking at photos of pseudoscorpions and thought perhaps that was it, until i saw that those guys are much much smaller than the critter i saw. my beast looked a bit thinner and longer as well. Also, being a hostel, people come from all over the world. This bug could have i suppose hitched a ride from anywhere on earth..?! Any thoughts on what this might have been? I’m just really really curious. The hostel might like to know what’s creeping around in their rooms as well. Thanks for your help!
Andy Scheffler

Dear Andy,
What an awesome letter. I hope I can help. I’m guessing house centipede. Very quick, transluscent, about 30 legs. We get lots of questions about this one. They are predatory, eating small insects, and not dangerous to people. No way it caused the girl’s rash.

great job!
Fantastic Website!!! I’m so glad I found you! for the past 3 yrs I’ve been trying to figure out what bug is in my shower every summer and immediately learned they were springtails from your website. You guys are great! So glad you’re out there for people like me. I also very much enjoyed the beautiful photos people have submitted and have a new appreciation for bugs considering i’m scared to death of them. thanks again and keep up the GREAT work!